Blog Post

Sequoia VC Veteran Joins Khosla, Focuses on Cleantech

pierrelamondphotoOne of the granddaddies of venture investing, Pierre Lamond — the National Semiconductor co-founder and partner at Sequoia Capital for almost 30 years — has opened up a new, greener door. At the spry age of 78, Lamond has joined Vinod Khosla’s firm Khosla Ventures, where he will focus on different sectors in cleantech, the New York Times reports and we’ve confirmed. Lamond tells the Times that he joined the firm instead of retiring this year (“I don’t feel that I’m 78,” he says), and that he appreciates Khosla Venture’s focus on “growing companies from scratch.”

Lamond is an affable guy, and I interviewed him last year for an article looking at Sequoia’s small but compelling cleantech portfolio. Sequoia has invested in only a handful of cleantech firms, and they would have a fantastic batting average for the sector if one of their plays, lithium ion battery darling A123Systems, goes through with plans to go public. However, those plans emerged before the downturn, and we’re still waiting to see if the battery maker will — or can — go public.

But it’s interesting that Lamond told us back then that Sequoia’s cleantech strategy was to “not invest in concepts,” and that “the company has to have a real product and a competitive advantage” to attract his investment. While that’s not necessarily mutually exclusive with wanting to invest in companies from scratch, it’s a somewhat different strategy. Perhaps Lamond is looking for some more risk-taking investment fun in his almost-octogenarian years.

Lamond also told us that he and Sequoia decided to take a less-risky cleantech approach after watching the big hits and major misses in the dotcom boom, and that he didn’t want to recreate some of the hype-induced failures of the late ’90s. On that note, he told us that he had looked at many ethanol companies and passed on all of them . . . Hmm, wonder if he mentioned that to aggressive ethanol-backer Khosla in the interview process.